The 2020 Toyota Highlander celebrates the mid-sized crossover sport utility vehicle’s 20th birthday. The occasion also marks the family hauler’s continuing spree of prime sales years.
Beginning in 2017, the Highlander has had three straight years surpassing 200,000 units sold globally. A fourth consecutive year of 200K sales will likely occur when yearly tallies are calculated in January.
It won’t be surprising since the 2020 model was redesigned with worthy updates. The Highlander is now a further family favorite.
A three-row crossover with seating up to eight, the 2020 Highlander is available in five trim levels: L, LE, XLE, Limited and Platinum. All models feature a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 295 horsepower and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard. All-wheel drive is optional, and a hybrid is also available.
2020 Toyota Highlander Has AWD Option
Gas mileage averages are strong for the Highlander’s classification. Front-wheel-drive models are listed with EPA estimates of 20 miles per gallon in city driving, 27 mph on the highway. The AWD model rated with 21 and 29 mpg averages.
The reviewed Platinum trim includes the all-wheel-drive option. And as the top-line trim was chock-full of comfort and technology upgrades. The features list includes: 20-inch wheels, integrated navigation, leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, and a premium JBL audio system.
And there’s also a panoramic sunroof, a 12.3-inch touchscreen, a surround-view camera system, a digital rearview mirror and a driver’s head-up display. The top-line Highlander also includes many of the comfort and technology features of the base and other trim levels — LED headlights to blind-spot monitoring, a power liftgate and an eight-inch touchscreen.
With the new edition, Toyota also expanded the Highlander’s poor cargo space behind the third row of seating from 13.8 to 16 cubic feet. It’s an improvement but still tiny for the segment which includes impressive newcomers, Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride.
The Highlander offers competent acceleration, the 0-to-60 miles per hour standard accomplished in 7.5 seconds. It’s a middle-of-the-pack performance among mid-sized SUVs.
With all-wheel-drive, the Highlander performances well on winding roads and in inclement weather. It’s a refreshing trait in the SUV market, a category of vehicles where body roll is prevalent.
The Highlander is among the SUV originals. It’s comfortable on long hauls, nimble in city driving where tight corners, parking lots and driving issues provide limitations for many SUVs.
Nothing’s wrong with the Highlander. It’s versatile with above-average fuel economy, an appealing interior and a comfortable interior.
If Toyota introduces more human and cargo space, the Highlander may be able to keep its strong perch among mid-size SUVs. But the competition is wicked and choices abound.
Article Last Updated: December 31, 2020.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.